Lakewood Observer's Victory Garden 4: Pruning, Feeding, and Planning
As the calendar flips to June, most of us have planted our gardens and are now tending to them diligently. Early crops are being harvested while summer crops are setting root and reaching for the sun. Now is the time when a little extra effort can make the difference between failure and filling your pantry and freezer for winter. The month of June should be dedicated to pruning, feeding, and planning.
Pruning or pinching your plants encourages branching, builds stronger stems, reduces disease, and increases your harvest. Two plants that are fun to pinch to promote branching are peppers and rosemary. Pinch the top set of leaves once your pepper plant has 6 or 8 leaves. You should also pinch the first set of flowers on your peppers or at least harvest the first peppers a little early to promote much larger crops later in the season. Tomatoes should be pruned to promote air circulation and allow sunlight to the fruit. Greater air circulation in the garden helps fight blights and mildews. If you planted row crops such as radishes or carrots, your pruning now is also called thinning. Make sure you provide adequate space for your crops to reach maturity.
Feed. Feed. Feed. Making sure your garden is well fertilized is essential to bountiful harvests. Regular feedings of an all-purpose fertilizer should be applied as recommended as well as any supplemental feeds. For the all-purpose consider Plant Tone or Happy Frog All Purpose, these organic granular fertilizers should be applied monthly for most vegetables. Additionally, for plants that bear fruit, consider a calcium supplement. Bone meal and lime are good choices for tomato gardeners looking to avoid blossom end rot. Do not spend all summer tending to your plants for little to no harvest, because you didn’t feed them. Container gardeners should consider more frequent feedings as nutrients are depleted from pots at a quicker rate than the ground.
Preparing for the harvest this year will be as important as anything you do if you are planning to freeze, can, or dehydrate for the winter. Get your supplies and get them early. There still seems to be hoard mentality regarding certain products and gardening supplies are amongst them. Pick up your canning jars early, make sure you have a good set of pruners, get plenty of vacuum bags and have a plan. As you harvest your spring crops, think about what you will plant for late summer or fall, get those seeds early as supplies have been depleted globally.
Good preparation now will lead to a more enjoyable gardening season. In addition to pruning, pinching, feeding, and developing a good plan for summer, remember to stake your plants early, water and weed regularly. Also consider keeping notes on your successes and failures, anymore photos are easier than ever, too. Lastly take some time in the sun to relax and enjoy summer, it’s why we live here.
Publisher, Lakewood Observer, Inc.